Grading OKC Thunder's 2013 NBA Draft Decisions
Bitterness and "what ifs" aside, the Thunder entered the 2013 draft with a great opportunity to bolster their roster. Normally, teams with 60 victories during the regular season wouldn't be picking anywhere near the lottery, but Oklahoma City was able to acquire a draft pick from the Toronto Raptors which ended up shaking out to the No. 12 overall selection.
In the weeks leading up to the draft, there was plenty of speculation about what OKC should do with the pick. Though the pick was in the lottery, it was also in the middle of what has been projected to be a rather average draft class with the special talent likely going off the board very early.
Therefore, word eventually got out on draft day about the Thunder aggressively pursuing the No. 2 overall pick, as reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
Oklahoma City is pushing hard for a deal with Orlando to secure the No. 2 pick and draft Indiana's Victor Oladipo, league sources tell Y!— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 27, 2013
Moving up to the No. 2 spot to take a perfect player for the franchise? That sounded very lucrative for the Oklahoma City organization, but alas, the Thunder could not sweeten the pot enough for the Orlando Magic, and they ended up staying put at their No. 12 spot on the draft board.
Oklahoma City Thunder Select Steven Adams at No. 12 Overall
Though most experts and analysts were able to correctly predict who would be taken in the top 10 of this draft, almost nobody expected the kind of chaos that ensued after the first pick was called.
The Cleveland Cavaliers shocked the basketball world and selected Anthony Bennett from UNLV first overall, even though most people (probably including Bennett himself) envisioned him more as a top-10 and possible top-five kind of guy.
It was a crazy first part of the draft for sure, but it ultimately did not affect the Thunder's pick at No. 12, neither positively nor negatively. Instead, there were the group of prospects that OKC had surely prepared for—big men like Steven Adams, Kelly Olynyk, Mason Plumlee and Gorgui Dieng.
Why did I even bother to mention what happened before the Thunder's pick? Because it was a truly exemplary showing of the kind of team assembling that happens in OKC.
Steven Adams, a seven-footer from the University of Pittsburgh, wasn't the sexiest pick in the world and it certainly didn't cause the Twitter world to go into a frenzy. However, it was the right pick for the Thunder.
Adams has a great NBA-ready body and has shown tons of upside even in his limited contributions at Pitt. He thrives in the post on defense and demonstrates a matured ability to play in-your-face type defense without fouling, a great bonus for any NBA center.
Thanks to his enormous 7'4" wingspan, Adams has also proven himself to be a dominant man on the glass, ranking third in the Big East Conference last season with his total rebounding percentage of 17.2 percent.
Even with all of these praises, there's inevitably much work to be done for Adams if he wants to eventually form himself into a threat to Kendrick Perkins' starting spot.
Adams is a raw prospect for now, but if developed correctly, could end up being on of the hidden gems of this entire NBA draft class.
Oklahoma City Thunder Trade for Andre Roberson (No. 26 overall) in Exchange for Archie Goodwin (No. 29 overall)
Even if it is still technically in the first round, the later picks of the first round often get blurred with the early picks of the second round and classified as talent that is generally expected not to contribute too much.
However, there are always exceptions to the expectations who rise above their draft number and prove to the league that they should have been taken higher.
The Thunder may (or may not) have found a player of that caliber when they traded up to acquire the rights to a pretty under-the-radar prospect in Andre Roberson.
Though Roberson's best season at the University of Colorado came as a sophomore, where he was third in the nation in rebounding (11.2 rebounds per game) and first in rebound percentage (21.6 percent), it wasn't until after a slightly worse junior year that he declared for the draft.
Regardless of when he decided to enter the draft, the numbers don't lie for Roberson, who will arrive in the NBA as a sort of combo-forward due to his average size of 6'7". Besides the insane rebounding, Roberson also demonstrated a decent perimeter shot (35 percent from three-point range in his college career), as well as an impressive ability to block shots (1.4 per game in college).
Roberson is a rather interesting prospect who has the possible opportunity to become an understudy for Kevin Durant. His shooting consistency will need some heavy adjustment as well as other areas such as free throw shooting and ability to score in the post. However, the lack of pressure combined with a winning environment could really motivate Roberson to make his name known in the league.
Oklahoma City Thunder select Alex Abrines at No. 32 Overall
I may be shortsighted here, but this was a really bad move for the Thunder.
It wasn't because of who they drafted, though. In fact, I think Alex Abrines, a 19-year-old swingman who currently runs with FC Barcelona, has the potential to actually break through into the NBA sooner rather than later.
However, I do think that the Thunder left a better player on the board in Jamaal Franklin from San Diego State. Franklin, who was not selected until nine spots later at No. 41 overall, watched his draft stock plummet from a first-round lock to flirting with undrafted territory.
Franklin would have been a perfect prospect for Oklahoma City to bring in, especially with the uncertainty surrounding the re-signing of Kevin Martin. If Kawhi Leonard proved anything, it was that players who come from the San Diego State system play hard every second that they're on the court and do so with a quiet, but inspired, passion.
Jamaal Franklin has shown himself to be no different from that description and has even transformed his great basketball attitude and dedication to the game as a valuable asset for any NBA rookie.
These are the kinds of players needed on all sorts of teams, but especially in a setting like the Thunder's where there are guys like Russell Westbrook around to work with and work off the intensity of a player like Franklin.
Maybe Abrines ends up making a difference for OKC down the road, but for now, the passing on Jamaal Franklin could end up being a rare, but big mistake, for Sam Presti.
Oklahoma City Thunder Acquire Draft Rights to Grant Jerrett (No. 40 overall) for cash
The saying goes, "sometimes you gotta spend money to make money," and Oklahoma City may be very well in line to indeed make some money here (both figuratively and literally).
Grant Jerrett entered the draft and baffled some people because of his weak statistics of 5.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, all coming in just his 17.8 minutes of gametime at the University of Arizona last season.
However, this is possibly another case of a statistically stunted player who ends up fulfilling his potential in the NBA.
Jerrett has good enough size to qualify as a power forward in the professional level, standing 6'10" with an impressive 7'2" wingspan. What is truly intriguing, though, is his ability to shoot very well from beyond the arc, where he posted a percentage of 40.5 last season on 2.3 three-point attempts last season.
His ability to space the floor is never undervalued on a Thunder team with slashing threats like Durant and Westbrook, especially if he was on the floor with fellow big-man-with-range Serge Ibaka.
These past few seasons of contention for Oklahoma City has reinforced the fact that it's not always easy to crack your way into the rotation or any minutes at all under Scott Brooks, so Jerrett will really have to expand his game and shine in order for the coaching staff to take notice and act accordingly.
What grade would you give the Oklahoma City Thunder's overall draft performance?
Stats are courtesy of Sports-Reference.com, unless noted otherwise.
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